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Thompson Proton Center offers patients one of the world’s most advanced forms of radiation therapy for cancer treatment.

Proton therapy is a trusted form of radiation therapy capable of precisely targeting tumors while significantly sparing healthy tissue and decreasing the risk of side effects.

The unique characteristics of protons allow doctors to determine and plan exactly where the prescribed, maximum energy of the proton beam is released within the target tumor site to destroy cancer cells. Tightly conforming to the shape of the tumor site avoids delivering unnecessary radiation to nearby healthy tissue and vital organs. The decrease in unnecessary radiation results in patients’ improved quality of life both during and after treatment.

Thompson Proton Center utilizes pencil beam scanning, the most advanced form of proton therapy delivery, also known as Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy (IMPT). Pencil beam scanning builds on the advantages of proton therapy and provides additional customization and precision for cancer treatment. Physicians are able to treat the tumor area, layer by layer, with the prescribed radiation dose using a proton beam only millimeters wide. Pencil beam scanning also enables physicians to plan the exact point at which the proton beam stops inside the body by controlling both the depth and position of the beam. This level of control makes it possible to effectively and safely treat some of the most complex tumors.

As one of the world’s most advanced forms of radiation therapy for cancer treatment, proton therapy is most beneficial for treating a localized tumor, where cancer has not spread to other parts of the body, or in cases where tumors cannot be removed surgically. Proton therapy may also be the best option for cases that require re-irradiation, or when the tumor is located by a sensitive organ or structure. It can be combined with other cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapies and hormone therapy. A proton therapy experienced radiation oncologist can determine the potential benefit of proton therapy for a patient’s individual case.

Proton vs Traditional Radiation Therapy

Protons behave differently than x-rays used in traditional forms of radiation therapy. X-rays beams continue in a straight path through the body. They deposit energy along the entire path through the body, from entry through the target site and beyond until exiting with energy decreasing along the way. Protons deposit little of their energy until they reach the planned end of their path where they release all of their energy and stop without continuing through the body or depositing unnecessary radiation beyond the target. Proton therapy allows the timing and dosage of the protons’ energy to be controlled. This allows the maximum prescribed dose of energy to be directly deposited into the tumor, reducing damage to nearby health tissue.

Treatment Advantages

Thompson Proton Center is pleased to provide an advanced form of radiation therapy to our patients. Proton therapy can have several advantages for appropriate patients compared to traditional radiation therapy.

  • Controlled timing, placement and dosage of proton energy, creating a more precise delivery of the prescribed maximum curative dose directly to the tumor without depositing any exit dose of unnecessary radiation.
  • Improved quality of life, during and after treatment from greater precision in treating the tumor.
  • Lowers risk of side effects and impact to bodily functions, as unnecessary radiation to nearby healthy tissue and vital organs is prevented.

Cancers We Treat

Proton therapy precisely delivers curative radiation doses to tumors while reducing exposure of healthy tissue to unnecessary radiation and has a lower risk of side effects. Proton therapy can be the ideal treatment option for many types of cancer, including:

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Thompson Proton Center has met the standards of performance of the ASTRO Accreditation Program for Excellence (APEx). 


Patient Stories

  • Thompson Proton Center Earns National APEx Accreditation

    Thompson Proton Center achieves radiation oncology services reaccreditation from ASTRO’s APEx – Accreditation Program for Excellence® Thompson Proton Center, a member of Thompson Cancer Survival Center, attained reaccreditation from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) APEx – Accreditation Program for Excellence®. APEx provides external validation that a radiation oncology facility delivers high-quality, safe patient […]

  • With Grace and Strength

    27-Year-Old Healthcare Worker Overcomes Hodgkin Lymphoma thanks to Thompson Cancer Survival Center  In 2021, Logan Sluder, 27, of Knoxville, was in the process of planning her wedding and had landed the job of her dreams: caring for patients as a speech-language pathologist. After finishing her master’s degree, Sluder began working at Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, […]

  • A Wing and a Prayer

    Veteran Beats Prostate Cancer with Help from Proton Therapy “I remember it like it was yesterday.” James Cook, Knoxville resident and U.S. Army veteran, remembers the day he received his prostate cancer diagnosis. He was devastated. “I just about broke down in tears. My first thought was ‘why me?’ I started packing my bags, both […]

  • “More Good Years”

    Man Beats Prostate Cancer after Treatment from Proton Therapy Center After surviving a heart attack in his early forties, Mike Dresel knew not to take his good health for granted. That’s why when he received a prostate cancer diagnosis in his sixties, he dove head-first into researching proton therapy so he could make an informed […]

  • Summer of Protons

    Retired Business Man on His Way to Being Cancer-Free After Treatment at Thompson Proton Center Kevin Murphy, a retired hotel and travel executive, spent time traveling between Knoxville and his North Carolina home during summer 2022, which he coins, “The Summer of the Protons.” After receiving proton therapy at Thompson Proton Center for prostate cancer, […]

  • Thompson Proton Center Tours

    Elite Technology, Close to Home As the ONLY proton therapy center in our region, we’re proud to offer the latest technology and treatment methods to patients across East Tennessee and beyond. Learn about proton therapy here.  Seeing is Believing We offer weekly tours of our state-of-the-art facility. You’ll learn about the history and science of […]